Social Media

The Ministries Council reported for the whole of the morning, managing to conclude all their business by ten minutes into lunchtime, which led to an earlier finish to the day around 3.30 pm.

Vocations Champions were highlighted early on, as part of the overall theme of ‘Tomorrow’s Calling’ which had included a brief Youtube advertisement during the convener’s speech. Rev Alan Cartwright, at one time a regular at Assembly during his tenure as a Presbytery Clerk, was back with his ‘burning bush’ woolly jumper extolling the evangelistic virtues of wearing a clerical collar. I remain to be convinced that it is anything other than a clerical hindrance (with apologies to Very Rev Albert Bogle who is thoroughly persuaded) but the Assembly rapidly approved an addendum urging ministers to think about wearing clerical collars more frequently.

On Pioneer Ministry, we were encouraged to realise that pioneering can often be better done through a congregation sending out a whole team with a Pioneer Minister. Albert spoke strongly here in favour of the Church identifying and promoting evangelists within our congregations, which helpfully reminded the Assembly of our great need to reach out to new members.

On financial support for Candidates in training, Professor David Fergusson made a plea to find ways of preventing students entering the Parish Ministry with large student loans hanging around their necks, and some commitment was made by the Convener to looking at how significant grants or bursaries might be put in place.

New regulations on Remuneration and Reimbursement (replacing ‘listed expenses’) were approved relatively easily, now providing for an additional Sunday off at the end of a break (not envisaging an extra week, but this is not prescribed), along with payment for pastoral support where cover from neighbouring colleagues is not available, and also computer software and hardware. While the latter may be subject to some local negotiations, the Convener said that council staff would be willing to give advice to congregations and ministers to help find a way to ensure this support was adequately resourced.

The new email system for Church of Scotland ministers (we all have an email address now) was discussed, with an instruction to use these where possible being approved by the Assembly. The Council agreed to replace the now defunct Ministers’ Forum publication with a monthly email circulation listing the latest vacancies. It was noted that bulk emails to this system are all screened by Ministries Council staff for approval prior to being sent on.
Rev Mary Whittaker, Minister for the Deaf in Aberdeen, made a plea to revise the now seriously outdated Act on Deaf Ministry (XXIII 1969) through her sign language being clearly interpreted for the benefit of the Assembly, and her articulate communication was warmly approved.

Various Acts relating to Training and Selection, and to the Ordained Local Ministry in particular, were revised to remove some anomalies; and a shared parental leave policy will be prepared for next year.

After lunch the Social Care Council reported. An instruction to Presbyteries and local congregations to engage with Crossreach was helpfully toned down to an urging, and Andrew Barrie (jr) gave a brief commendation of the recommendation for Prayer for this work.

Financial issues continue to be a major concern, not least in seeking to fulfil previous resolutions to pay staff the Living Wage – complicated by the need to maintain differentials. Helpfully we were encouraged to speak of “Church of Scotland Crossreach” in referring to this agency, in order to raise the profile of this as part of the Church’s work.

The afternoon concluded with the Guild report, which again highlighted the excellent work and witness the Guild encourages throughout the Church. An instruction was given to presbyteries and congregations to discuss the new Guild Action Plan.